A little before the COVID-19 pandemic hit New Zealand, I sat down with an old friend for coffee.  She is the CMO for a pretty large New Zealand organization.

We were discussed many things including the Vatican Museum, old friends, and most interestingly (at least from the perspective of this blog post) the challenges she faced in her role and also some of the quick wins she’d managed to get. 

One of the quick wins that struck me as most interesting was her quite brutal approach to working out which tools were in use within the marketing teams.  She looked at all the vendors popping up on monthly credit card accounts, and simply stopped all the payments.  If a member of the marketing team came to her and said ‘hey, product <x> has been terminated’ she’d engage them in a conversation.  Could they be using product <w> instead?  Could they find someone else to share the cost with?  Was there a product that was a better strategic fit?

Now, this is a radical approach – but it did save the organization $150k per annum and got the team onto a reduced product set that had no less functionality.  Oddly, she didn’t have that many conversations with people – many of the products simply weren’t being used.  The benefits aren’t just cost related.  With fewer products, there are more transferable skills across the team (for example instead of three social listening apps, use one, and have three people who ALL know how to use it – great for when someone is sick or on leave).

I am not suggesting everyone takes this brutal of an approach, but the notion of auditing your tool set for redundancy and fit for purpose is a good one – one more organisations should do on a regular basis.  It may be that new products are needed, but it is equally (and maybe more) likely that you are using too many products, and not using them to their full capacity.